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Op-Ed: Beauty Discrimination During a Job Search?

“The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says, “It’s a girl.””
— Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm

In a recent article in the New York Times, titled “Beauty Discrimination During A Job Search,” Tara Parker-Pope speaks about a study that was conducted suggesting that attractive women are less likely to get an interview for a job they apply for while handsome men are more likely to get callbacks.  The study was conducted by economists at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel.

Resumes were sent to businesses advertising open positions and attached to the resumes were photos of the applicants – one attractive and the other more average looking.  Since the resumes were almost identical the test was to see which of two people with almost identical resumes would receive a call to come in and interview for the position.  The results were rather biased.

The conclusion in the study was that the attractive men that sent in pictures were more likely to get an interview over the guys that were average looking and the guys that did not send a picture in at all.  When it came to the women the applicants that did not send in any photo were more likely to get an interview over the women that were “Plain Janes.”  The women that sent in attractive photos were least likely to get callbacks.  When contacted directly, the researchers found the person responsible for processing résumés was usually a single young woman, from 23 to 34 years old.  Another find was that men and women who sent in resumes with pictures were viewed differently.  Employers found men who sent in pictures as confident, where as women were viewed as relying on their looks.  Well, if that is not a double standard then I do not know what is.
In a society where, as women, we have fought so hard to have equality, I find it vile that it is women who are holding others back in the workforce.  How are we ever supposed to get ahead when we do not equally want to help each other?  Seriously — think about that question.  We sit around complaining about how men still make more money than us and that we are not taken seriously by men that we work with, but yet the people that are discriminating the most against us are our own kind.  That must send some powerful message.  And I would love to know the purpose of weeding out the attractive people – there is the potential that the attractive woman is a better candidate.

Even though both women have identical resumes, a personality is not shown through a resume.  Apparently though just by sending in a picture a personality trait is assumed, confident or reliant.  We are so quick to judge people that half the time we are judging our opinions of the person and not the real person.  It appears to me that we are not taking a step forward but rather a step back and it is up to us to collectively come together and help each other out.

Tell us what you think about this study. As a woman, have you ever felt discriminated when it comes to your looks in the workplace?

Nicole Iannitti, EyeloveCosmetics

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3 comments

  1. It would be so nice if we could live in a world where people are only judged by “the content of their character” and qualifications in a job situation, but it seems we will probably always be hindered by some kind of appearance bias.

  2. Hopefully perceptions can change and that women will do their part in showing confidence and demonstrating competence while looking their best. The standard can change when we all work together to chose the most skilled applicants for the positions. I believe that beauty is important and that a woman that is well groomed and uses her abilities to the utmost should be appreciated.

  3. I agree that women that are much younger or older will hold it against someone prettier. I worked in a toxic atmosphere where my boss had no issues with my looks as long as I did my job but the office manager who was overweight, smelly and just plain racist, hated me from day one. In fact this is true because another woman that I became friends with was also attractive, and she got the cold treatment from this office manager and we both got insulted in front of new hires.

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